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he person you are observing above is a military mastermind that goes by the name of Georgi Konstantinovich Zhukov. This man remains in history as the most decorated general because of his successful delegation of soldiers toward victory in the Second World War. It is imperative to remember that the Soviet Union was suffering from a lack of armament (at least in the first half of the war) therefore it was difficult to counter-attack the Germans even if the numbers were much greater.

Background on Zhukov’s military service

Born on the 1st of December 1896 in Strelkovka (southeast of Moscow) he was always known as a fighter even if his life was quite hard because he came from a poor family. After a year the start of World War 1 (1914), he decided to conscript into the Russian Imperial Army where he taught valance and bravery that pushed him toward the rank of captain.

Zhukov also fought for the Red Army in the Russian Civil war from 1918 to 1920 where he managed to gain his first military star as a general. After the Russian civil war, he trained to become an expert in armored warfare.

Joseph Stalin and Marshal Zhukov in 1941 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Interestingly enough, at the start of World War 2, he was not sent to protect the Eastern front but actually to fight the Japanese in Mongolia. His first significant victory was at the battle of Khalkin-Gol where he crushed the Japanese army with his intelligent and experienced military tactics.

This victory persuaded Stalin to appoint Zhukov as chief of the army general staff in January 1941. By October 1941 Zhukov was appointed to direct the defense of Moscow against the German army as well as to organize a counter-attack in order to push the Germans back.

Leading the defense of Stalingrad

His real true potential was not shown until August 1942 when he was appointed by Stalin as deputy commander-in-chief of the Red Army (the highest position that was retained until the end of the war). Stalin had appointed him to this position with a specific task in mind, he knew the potential that Zhukov had as a military tactician, therefore, he assigned him the task of coordinating the defense of Stalingrad.

One of the reasons that he was so highly decorated was because he had done some truly unbelievable things, managing to not only defend Stalingrad but also turn the war back onto the Germans by pushing them out of Stalingrad.

Why was this such a difficult task?

The Red Army had lots of men, however, very small weaponry was available, not even talking munition or even armored vehicles. Upon the defense of Stalingrad, one soldier was given a loaded rifle whilst the second was given five rounds and he had to wait until the first soldier would die to take his rifle.

Marshal Zhukov near the battlefield where he led the Soviet troops who overwhelmed the army of the Third Reich (Source: Rare Historical Photos)

At the same time, the morale of the Red Army was at its lowest point because the blitzkrieg tactic of the Germans was very successful. At the cost of many lives, Zhukov managed to succeed in turning the War onto the German army and pushing the Germans out of the Soviet Union.

Coordinating the largest tank battle in history

The battle of Kursk is remembered as the biggest tank battle in history which was coordinated by Zhukov himself with the help of Aleksandr Vasilevsky, a high commanding officer of the Red Army who had also become a Marshal of the Soviet Union by the End of the war.

Soviet troops going into battle at Kursk with T-34s (Source: BBC)

His expertise in armored warfare had been very useful as well as the introduction of the IS-2 tanks against the Tiger panzers that the Germans had brought to the battle in 1943. The battle was a complete defeat for the Germans as the Red Army had suffered few losses and after this battle, the morale of the Red Army flew sky-high by seeing how easily they can defeat the Germans.

Leading the Red Army towards the victory of World War 2

Zhukov was also the Soviet Marshal to lead the last assault on Germany. By April 1945 he had captured Berlin and ended the war with the help of other Allied nations in Europe. For all of his numerous victories in World War 2, he had become a very famous figure (at least in East Europe).

He mentioned that throughout the war the Germans put up a very good fight from a defensive point of view, however, the poor tactics chosen at the end of the war had cost them too much, and even so, they did not stand a chance against the sheer numbers and high morale of the Red Army provided at the end of the war.

Political power

After the war, Stalin decided to demote Zhukov to command the Odessa military district as he was afraid of the power he could have because of his high rank. After the death of Stalin in 1955, Zhukov returned to Moscow and became the minister of defense. After two years he had a falling out with Nikita Khrushchev and ended up being sacked which actually affected his reputation.

In the end, Khruschev fell in 1964 which allowed Zhukov to gain his reputation back, however, he was never appointed to the office ever again. Our Soviet Marshal died on the 18th of June 1974. This was the last Marshal to live in the Soviet era as that rank is no longer in use, with the exception of the Navy.

We need to pay our respects to this military genius that played a massive role in ending the German invasion and winning World War 2 for the Allies.

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